Over the last few years (especially since reading The Conscience of a Conservative), I’ve slowly been getting more and more involved in local community events, including local politics. For many people, this seems incredibly boring: I go to city council meetings, school board meetings, and all sorts of other community events. To me, though, it reaps real financial dividends in a number of ways beyond the altruistic “helping the community” attitude.
Here are nine ways I’ve found that getting involved in my local community has directly or indirectly put cash in my pocket.
I have had tons of opportunity to promote my consulting business. I have a consulting business on the side where I set up and fix computer and home networking systems for people. Attending local events has given me countless opportunities to meet lots of people in the community, give them my business card, and build a potential future client.
I influence local policy, which can save me money. Take, for instance, policies involving sidewalk maintenance. The city council might quietly pass a law requiring that all sidewalks be made level and of the same material, while I have a brick section in front of my home (to use an example). Thus, by objecting and suggesting that the material part be stricken, a bunch of money can be saved.
I meet people who may have interesting ideas. Fully a quarter of the entries here of late have come from overhearing interesting discussions between other community members.
I have tons of free entertainment. Between council meetings and other community events, I rarely pay a dime for entertainment of any kind any more (aside from cable and internet, I suppose).
I get tons of free food. There are dinners of all kinds going on throughout the place I live in on a very regular basis. I am constantly invited to dinners of all kinds for various community groups, and very rarely is there any cost. When there is cost, it’s usually a freewill donation, and I don’t mind dropping a Hamilton in a jar for a good cause on occasion.
I get other nice perks. Because of my involvement, I’ve been offered membership in various groups, which comes with great perks such as use of community buildings, equipment I can borrow for free, and so forth.
I make connections that can help in the future. I basically have two standing job offers in my community if I were to ever take them – I probably won’t, but you never know.
I expand the social circle not only for myself, but for my family. I already know the parents of at least some of my child’s peer group, even though the children do not know each other yet (in a few instances they do, but not regularly). This makes it easier to determine which parents may be good social partners in the future when we have children the same age who become friends, thus saving on babysitting fees, for example.
I can help people, and that help comes back around. I’ve been involved with several community events to benefit specific people in need, and I now know that if I were ever in a perilous situation, the community would reach out to me as well.
In short, community involvement is one of the most valuable things that you can do with your time.